Before answering that question, let me just set the scene.
I remember – and it was really not that long ago – when it seemed like everybody and his uncle were developing Mobile POS products, and all of them were going to be “brilliant”! However, many of them were nothing more than the result of a certain amount of bandwagon-jumping … because back in the day, the emerging Mobile POS services were seen as “the next big thing!”
I recognise that a person’s got to earn a crust … but in the beginning, it seemed that whatever problem you might have, the solution was a Mobile POS!
Since those early days, the landscape has settled … and when I looked, I was actually surprised to find such a small number of viable options. I guess that if you are in the market for a Mobile POS, then a smaller number of available Mobile POS should make for an easier Mobile POS decision … we’ll see.
What is a Mobile POS?
A Mobile POS is little more than a stand-alone POS with its bulky form factor reduced and much of the non-essential functionality removed.
If you want to take card payments, you will need a device that can read a card and then communicate with the card issuer – via whatever intermediary communication network might be lying in wait along the way. A Mobile POS device does just that.
Mobile POS devices implement the EMV contact and contactless card payment standards and use the GSM networks (or WiFi) to exchange encrypted payment information over the air. The payment data is sent from one end of the payment system (the Mobile POS device) to the other (the Card Issuer), where it is processed (authorised) … and then it comes back.
Mainstream POS devices (fixed) are usually supplied to merchants by payment service providers on a rental basis, where the cost of the payment terminals and the transaction fees are bundled into a monthly service charge.
Mobile POS devices are generally supplied on a pay-as-you-go principle: you buy the Mobile POS device outright and then pay for each transaction on an ad hoc basis. The transaction processing fees tend to be higher but there is no minimum transaction commitment and there are no contracts.
If your retail business turnover is significant and most of it is card-based, then a monthly service charge is probably going to represent the best value for money. Card payment processing is a volume game … the higher the number of transactions you do, the lower will be the cost per transaction.
From a technical payment perspective, there is essentially no difference between the operation of Mobile POS devices and the mainstream fixed variety found in most retail outlets. Mobile POS devices are smaller, they are powered by batteries and are therefore portable, which is why they are favoured by traders who, by the nature of their trade, tend not to have a fixed physical base.
What makes a great Mobile POS?
Most Mobile POS devices are designed and engineered to be simple and easy to operate for both the retailer and the customer. There is no doubt that there is a great deal going on under the covers: chip-based secure payment transactions are complex … but all this complexity has been reduced to a simple process that just works.
If you just want to take card payments, and don’t anticipate taking a huge number of them, the Mobile POS solution is a good bet … but which one?
A great Mobile POS is one that gets the job done, is cost effective, reliable … and looks pretty.
A great Mobile POS is a Mobile POS that you can fall in love with … here are nine of them!